The United Nations and genocide: Prevention, intervention, and prosecution [Book Review]

Human Rights Review 5 (4):8-31 (2004)
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Abstract

The UN has to date not been effective in preventing genocide, and has had only a slightly better record in stopping it. There have been occasions when its interventions has occurred only after a genocide has taken place, and even then its major focus has been on facilitating the provision of aid by non-governmental agencies rather than on the task of tracking down the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. The exceptions of the ICTY and the ICTR are so stark, in this regard, that they only serve to throw light on the many other genocidal events where the UN has not initiated measures against those responsible for carrying them out. In short, as a body the UN has no—until very recently—even approached the fulfillment of its mandate as articulated in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and only rarely invoked Chapter VII of the UN Charter in order to intervene physically for the purpose of countering threats to peace or stopping conflict. Its strengths, so far as there have been any, have focused on balancing great power interests with demands to intervene more forcefully. While in the years up to 1989 this could be seen as a way of maintaining the peace (albeit over the broken bodies of victims of genocide in places such as Biafra, Cambodia, and East Timor), since then the UN has been required to act with greater resolve and purpose. The failures of Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo must thus be seen as having been brought on by a transition from one international regime to another; from a Cold War regime in which the UN—s main role was one of preventing a third (and possibly nuclear) World War from breaking out, to a post-Cold War regime which appears increasingly to be characterized by the UN searching for a new role in which humanitarian issues are to assume a higher priority than they once did. Whether or not this will continue, of course, will depend on an extremely wide variety of circumstances—and at this time it is likely that only a few of these can accurately be anticipated

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Invitation.[author unknown] - 1998 - Human Studies 21 (3):327-328.

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